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Dying Light (Review)

Reviewed on PS4

Did we need another zombie game? No really. But Dying Light brings something new to the table within the over-populated zombie genre.

Dying Light is a zombie-survival game, telling the story of Crane, who is under-cover in the city of Harran. The story is not the game’s strong point, with the expected twists and turns that you expect however Dying Light brings two unique selling points to the game.

The first USP of this game: free-running. The frequent comparison of this tool is Mirror’s Edge, and rightly so. It feels fluid once you get the hang of it, however quickly that may be. There are two main problems with the mechanic, the first being that you may take a while to become fluent with it, you first of all, need to ensure that you’re upgrading in the right places, because you notice the difference, something I’ll come onto later. Secondly, there is no input to free run down a building or safely decrease in levels. This is a massive flaw in what is overall, a good experience.

The second USP is the day and night cycle. Never in a game have I felt so scared and wanted to get back to my safe zone. This is something that the game touches upon perfectly, I am scared from the world, and you’ll gradually become more confident until you get ambushed, but then you’ll grow more confidence yet again and so on. The difference between the two modes are contrasting, in the day, you can go about your business and if you’re smart, you’ll keep out of trouble however the moment the clock strikes 9pm, the world changes. You’re suddenly the hunted, hiding in every possible spot to avoid the dreaded monsters that arise from the darkness. The moment you’re spotted, your mind goes into over-drive, trying to use every possible tactic to escape.

From the high-point to a low point, the Be A Zombie mode lacks personality and feels like it’s just in there to be in there, which the game didn’t need with plenty of gameplay to keep you going for a very long time. It feels like a clone from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 zombie mode Turned. Also, within the first week upon launch, the matchmaking significantly struggled to find a game. Staying onto the multiplayer aspect, the four-player co-op offers the opportunity to experience the game with friends if you wish, however I found it to undermine the tone of the game overall. It’s hard to be scared when you feel safety in numbers, plus when your friend is telling a funny anecdote from years ago. The game feels at heart like it’s best as a solo experience, however the opportunity is there if you wish to play with friends.

The upgrade system within the world is easy to navigate, earning points for the relevant category when you do the relevant thing, ie more running will increase your agility skill tree. You really feel the benefits of these upgrades, especially in the agility tree. As you’re increasing, you can really feel the difference, and it’s only when you’re a hefty way through the game, the free-running starts to click because of this.

The game offers plenty of content. The massively expanding list of  side quests you will encounter, will cause for you to be side-tracked at every point but that’s not a bad thing at all. The content within these quests often offer some intriguing and dark themes, mixed in with the occasional hints of humour.

The loot is something that Techland has greatly improved upon, you are no longer opening five suitcases in every room you come upon which becomes repetitive and boring, it’s spaced out so when you do find something, it’s often of value or use. This leads me onto the crafting system, you’re given blueprints telling you what you are able to craft, it’s simple enough, which the outlines being clear in what you need to build the certain object.

The weapons within the game are what you expect, from baseball bats to pipes. When you eventually encounter guns, you’re given the dilemma of whether to use them but risk more infected coming. The gunplay feels fluid and powerful, bringing an extra angle to the gameplay.

Graphics are a big plus point, it’s a beautiful game. Showing the potential on this generation of consoles. The landscape is very polished, completely changing throughout the day and night cycle.

In a world with plenty of zombie of games, it’s a joy to have so many sub-genres. From the craziness of Dead Island, the storylines in The Walking Dead (Telltale), the satirical Dead Rising, the arcadish Plants vs Zombies, the cinematic Resident Evil and the dark The Last Of Us. Dying Light has itched a spot that I didn’t know was there, for a more serious zombie game that puts you in your place, while building up your skills and becoming more powerful, building your confidence.

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